As the greater Akron area’s newest (and — arguably — its oldest) “White Space” event venue, The Piggery at Anna Dean Farms in Barberton, Ohio is a dream-come-true for a creative event host. Unlike many white spaces, the Piggery’s setting is more rustic, versus the industrial look of a repurposed warehouse, but the interior styles are similar, in many ways.
Over the past year and a half, the building has undergone a dramatic transformation under the hand of the Barberton Historical Society (who Epiphany notes are “the most dedicated, caring and selfless people I have ever met. They spend hours upon hours of free time volunteering to restore the buildings. It is incredible.”).
Originally built at the turn of the twentieth century as part of the Historic O.C. Barber Anna Dean Farm, the historic brick-and-mortar barn — yes, once used for pigs — has been renovated for use for social gatherings of a variety of types and can seat up to 256. Funds from private events hosted in the space go towards preserving the these historic buildings and the Barber legacy.
Perfect for the DIY bride interested
Here are some of her tips for planning an event at The Piggery:
Something New Entertainment’s DJ Anna-Jeannine “AJ9” Herman: What first interested you in venue management?
The Piggery at Anna Dean Farms’ Epiphany Pietzcker: After I graduated from high school and during my first few years of college, I worked at Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens in the Hospitality Department. One of my favorite parts of the job was walking the bridal parties around on their wedding day- I had the opportunity to talk to a lot of brides during that time, and I always loved the thought that I got to work with someone on one of the biggest days of her life, at one of my most favorite places in the area! This kind of sparked my interest in the wedding industry at large. So much of a wedding is determined by the venue, so I always thought it would be awesome to be a part of designing and managing a great venue for couples.
DJ AJ9: How long have you worked in the event management industry?
The Piggery: I have been working with the Historical Society since last January, but before that, most of my industry work was done through the blog I started after college and I learned all of my planning and coordination skills from my job as a student assistant manager in the College of Education technology department at UA.
DJ AJ9: What do you enjoy most about working with wedding clients?
The Piggery: My favorite part about managing a DIY venue is that we get the most interesting, unique couples. I love seeing people’s faces light up when they come into the space and see the potential there.
DJ AJ9: What is the most important consideration couples should make when choosing a venue for their wedding?
The Piggery: I really think the most important thing to consider is how you feel when you walk into the venue the first time. In my experience, so much of planning a wedding is going with your gut feeling. If you go into a venue and don’t love it right off the bat, you’re probably going to have to work really hard to love it for your wedding day. There are so many beautiful venues in Northeast Ohio that each offer something unique to couples- find the place that speaks to you and it will make everything else fall into place.
DJ AJ9: What’s the biggest misconception you think couples might have about “hiring” a venue?
The Piggery: This definitely lies in pricing. It’s so hard because there is such a range in pricing between venues in the area, and sometimes people look at a venue that charges… and think, “oh my gosh, why is there such a difference?” We have kept our prices low so far because our venue really is DIY… but this is a real challenge for some couples who just book with us because we cost less, but don’t really consider the personal time they will have to invest to make their day successful. There is definitely a balance- you’ll either spend money right up front on a venue where they can do a lot of the grunt work for you, or spend time on a venue that requires more elbow grease. It is definitely important to know your event planning style from the get-go when you start your wedding planning.
DJ AJ9: How can a couple get the most out of their venue?
The Piggery: Again, know your style. Ask questions. I LOVE when brides send me e-mails with bullet point questions or when girls come to the walkthrough with their bridesmaids and family. Asking questions right up front will help you think about the process and narrow down the vision into something that is manageable.
DJ AJ9: What was the most interesting or challenging event you’ve ever worked on?
The Piggery: I hosted my best friend’s shower at the Piggery before it was ever officially open to the public for events. Although it was a small event in the grand scheme of things, it was the most challenging event for me so far because I had to convince everyone else to believe in the vision I had for the building. Frank (my friend’s dad, and one of the members of the Society) literally laughed at me when I told him that they should consider doing events there. I took it as a challenge, because I loved the Piggery from the first second I walked into it, and I knew what an asset it would be to the wedding landscape in Northeast Ohio. For me, Lisa’s shower really helped me to get the Board to back my vision of restoring the space for event use.
DJ AJ9: What are some of your favorite new trends (or tried-and-true classic themes) in layout/decor at the Piggery?
The Piggery: I love when people hang twinkle lights, and I love the look of uplighting. We have these stark white walls, and uplighting really makes the place pop. Our venue is pretty quirky, and one thing is that we have this giant bear in one of our side rooms that a bunch of brides have plans to decorate. I can’t wait to see how people incorporate him into their overall décor.
DJ AJ9: What’s the question I’m not asking you but you wish I would, or What’s the question that clients usually don’t ask you but you wish they would?
The Piggery: People usually come in looking for a reception space, but we also have other properties for ceremonies that are SO beautiful and unique, and they are always available, even if a couple isn’t sold on the Piggery for their reception. I wish more people knew about them (this is probably my fault though, as I need to arrange some shoots haha).
Also, I would love people know that I really am interested in helping them. I, of course, want people to book with us, but I also want people to have beautiful weddings because then it creates good business for my friends. I’m all about recommending other venues if ours doesn’t fit a client the way they were hoping.
DJ AJ9: What do you look for in a great DJ?
The Piggery: I look for vendors in general who I know care about their clients. I haven’t been in the business long, but you can definitely tell when someone is in the wedding business for the money compared to when someone is in it because they love people and want to make their day special. A great DJ and lighting designer will try their best to acquaint themselves with the unique designs of a venue, will be prepared but also open to the inevitable crazy last minute changes a wedding day may bring, and will work their very best to make the day great for the couple. The absolute worst thing a vendor can be is LATE. That just hurts everyone.
You visited the Piggery for the first time ever in the throes of a wet, cold Spring, and had to enter in through a haunted house that you didn’t even know existed. In the midst of all of that, you still signed on for our Open House, are a big encourager of our mission, and someone I can genuinely recommend to our clients because I know your heart is to provide the most excellent service possible.
About Epiphany Pietzcker: I am, most importantly, a wife to an awesome husband, and a mommy to one super cute baby. Other than that, I graduated in 2011 from the University of Akron Summa Cum Laude with a BA in Psychology, which means that I love research in a way that most people would label “nerdy.” I am a photography enthusiast and in my free time, I like to paint, pretend that I can sew, and I recently discovered that I kind of like gardening.
About the Barberton Historical Society: The Barberton Historical and Cultural Society was founded in 1965 after the demolition of the O. C. Barber Mansion. That organization went dormant in the late 1960s and in 1974 the Barberton Historical Society was founded to oppose the demolition of O.C. Barber’s Barn No 1. Currently, only 8 of the original 35 Anna Dean Farm buildings still survive, and much of this is due to the work of the Society, who owns 5 of the remaining 8. Five of the buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The mission of the Society is to restore the buildings and bring tourism to the most interesting places in the Barberton area.